Continued from part 2a Q: Since you brought up adversity I figured I'd ask you about that. As an opponent, do you look back at Daytona and say that was an aberration, or do you say, well, here's a guy who started out that way and...
Continued from part 2a
Q: Since you brought up adversity I figured I'd ask you about that. As an opponent, do you look back at Daytona and say that was an aberration, or do you say, well, here's a guy who started out that way and maybe should be winning titles?
J.D. GIBBS: You're talking about Jimmie? Q: Jimmie, yeah.
J.D. GIBBS: No, I really think that, hey, they had a year - again, we've been in the same position in years past. I think they had a few rough runs in there, but for the most part they've done a pretty good job of putting together - let's say you're running the whole system, not in the Chase, you go back and look at the top two guys up there, it's Jimmie and Matt. Either way, it's Jimmie and Matt.
I think both of those guys, even though Matt might be struggling a lit bit more here lately, both of those guys have done what it took all year long and they deserve to be there.
Q: So you don't look back at what happened at Daytona as an issue with Jimmie?
J.D. GIBBS: No, I don't.
MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us today and spending an extra little bit of time with us. We appreciate it very much, and good luck on Sunday. We are now joined by our last representative today, and that's going to be Richie Gilmore, who's the vice president of Motorsports for Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated, and Richie's team is the No. 8 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., which is in fifth place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings. What's your organization's frame of mind going into Sunday?
RICHIE GILMORE: We're excited about this race, and have had a lot of pressure on us the last few weeks. There's a lot of pressure off us because all we can do now is go out and try to win the race. Not that you hope for anybody to have bad luck, but we're going to have to have some guys in front of us have some trouble, and we've just got to try to go have some fun and try to win the race.
Q: Two parter here: What's been the difference this year for you guys? And second, just if you would, discuss for us how important chemistry is in putting a team together to have success.
RICHIE GILMORE: It's no different than any other sport. The chemistry is a huge part of success and people. Putting Tony, Jr., and Dale, Jr., back is a big part of success this year with a teammate. But a lot of the company this year has really rallied around Tony, Jr., and Dale, Jr., and Martin Truex and Bono, all them teams - the two teams working together is probably the biggest factor that I've seen the big turnaround this year is the communication among both teams.
Q: Dale, Jr., talks about how he really thinks his team has really come a long way and he also has personally. How have you seen him evolved over the last couple years?
RICHIE GILMORE: I think his focus is really - this year has been really, really strong, the time he's putting in with his team and being around the whole organization. I think last year going through some of the struggles we had at the beginning of the year and putting him with a leader like Steve Neal was really - really helped Dale, Jr., in a lot of ways to see - putting him with all the years of experience with Steve, and he brought that back over with Tony, Jr., this year, and they've just carried that on from the end of last year into this year.
Q: If I could just follow up, I mean, Dale, Jr., said he's kind of been surprised the team has been as successful as they have this year. Could you have envisioned a season like this?
RICHIE GILMORE: We really did. I mean, the whole team was excited about getting back together. We ran the last ten races, and starting out at Loudon, the team was in contention to win that race. They felt like they could come right out and be a team that could make the Chase, but not only make the Chase but also be in contention and win the championship.
Q: Thanks for coming on today. My question to you is where do you think the team is at positioned for the championship this year as perhaps compared to next year? And second question is someone called yesterday, some of the fans kind of got the idea that maybe there's kind of a little disagreement over setup as they try to figure out what the best setup is amongst the driver and crew chief and whatnot?
RICHIE GILMORE: Well, I think this year was a year to get back together, and for the whole company I think it turned around in the second half of the year on our engine side and the guys in the fab shop putting bodies on have gained a lot. The guys worked so well together.
The 1 team has shown so much promise, and when they got better it helped the 8. I think that you'll always have that with Dale, Jr., and Tony, Jr., the radio chatter, and it sounds - the way they communicate a lot is it sounds like disagreements, but that's really how they communicate.
As far as the setups this year has been so tricky with the coil bind springs and the shocks and the different things we've run this year setup wise, it's a challenge. But I think this year we've been frustrated when we finished 8th and 9th.
Junior was very frustrated at Phoenix towards the end, but we finished 9th. I think that shows that that is a championship team, when top 10s ain't good enough; you have to get up there and contend for wins every week like the 48 has been doing.
Q: What's the one thing - I know you're proud of how far they've come, but what's the one thing you think you've conquered this year?
RICHIE GILMORE: I think the biggest thing is the organization of the 1, the communication between both teams for every department, from the crew chiefs and drivers all the way to the guys working in the shocks and springs and the communication nets. That's what we have to get as a company. We made some big steps, but we've got to get even better at that.
Q: Is it a concern of yours and your company's that in a year when Junior and Gordon were back in the Chase, the TV ratings have kind of flattened out and there's been in some venues a drop in attendance? Is there a concern at Budweiser even?
RICHIE GILMORE: I think that's a concern. I think the sport has grown so fast, it got so popular so quick, it's grown every year. I think we look at how it's - I don't know if decline is a very good word. It grew so fast and grew so quick that right now football is doing so well and they have so many teams that are competitive.
I think with the TV packages and all the TV stuff they're doing, we're probably going to have television that's going to have to get a little more creative on the time slots and maybe not go head to head with the NFL because I think they're two great things to watch, and it's hard to split the people.
There's so many great fans out there that watch football and racing that like both, and we should try to get it where they can watch both and not have it where they're on at the same time.
Q: A couple questions. First you alluded to earlier with the crew chief change, right at the start of the Chase last year, looking back, having the extra ten races, what kind of an impact did it have on this season? And I guess might you be surprised that maybe other teams may not have taken advantage of that when they were eliminated from the Chase this year?
RICHIE GILMORE: I think it really helped us last year. It got us a head start because when Tony, Jr., and Dale, Jr. - last time, Tony, Sr., was the crew chief and Tony, Jr., was the car chief, and that was their first chance of being the crew chief and driver, and it was their first chance of getting on the coil bind springs and the setups we run now, so I think it's a big head start for us.
Q: I know there's been a lot of talk in the last week with Robert Yates Racing and maybe kind of a deal with purchasing part of that. Where are you guys in relation to that? Yates has said there may be an announcement this week.
RICHIE GILMORE: Well, I've told a lot of our guys, stories definitely grow in the sport. Maybe it's a slow time of the year with the Chase not being quite as tight as it should be. I think it's one of them stories that grew. I told Teresa maybe if - Teresa was going to go get a cup of coffee at 8:00 o'clock in the morning. By noontime she's going to buy a Starbucks. I think the story kind of grew that way. It grew legs for sure.
But right now we're just focused on getting Paul ready for next year and building organizations here at DEI. I think that was a story that grew a lot of legs this weekend at Phoenix, maybe on a slow media weekend.
Q: So nothing going on or nothing to it about purchasing the 88 or part of that organization?
RICHIE GILMORE: No.
Q: I hope you enjoyed your weekend away from the desert. Chevrolet has kind of dominated in '06. In your mind what's GM done to enable that? And given that Jack had five Fords in the Chase last year, did you expect more from Ford in '06?
RICHIE GILMORE: Yeah, I really did. To be honest, I think a lot of people at the beginning of the year would have been hard to bet against Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle and the organization that Jack put together. I think that Jack kind of whooped up on everybody last year, and the Chevrolet teams got to work. I know we did and Richard Childress has had unbelievable turnaround and DEI has both, and Hendrick, every year they seem to put a very strong program together every year, and Gibbs, also.
But I think last year the GM teams really went to work very hard to try to catch up with them, with Jack Roush, and I don't know - I know we probably didn't work any harder than they did, but it's one of them deals, they'll be back next year. They'll be a team to beat again.
Q: Did GM step up its support, whether it was engineering or finance or anything else?
RICHIE GILMORE: GM has always been there for us as far as an aero program, and we have a great partnership with the key partners with us and Gibbs and Hendrick and Childress to work on the engines. They've been there for us. Maybe we let them down more in 2005 than they helped us in 2006, but really all along, they've been there for us. I think it was more the owners and the teams just bear down and got to work, and Chevrolet teams were - we had very good cars this year and very good race teams.
Q: You've got a car that's right there up in the top of the Chase, but is there any tweaks to the Chase that you would make? Would you reward more points for winning or qualifying or any of those things? And do you like the mix of races that are in the Chase?
RICHIE GILMORE: Those are great questions. I think it depends if you're attempting the Chase or you're winning whether you like it or would like it to change. I think there should be maybe a little more bonus for winning races because I think that's one thing, if - definitely being from Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated, and being around Dale, that's the number one factor you look at is you want to win championships but you want to win races every week, and I think there should be a little bit more of a reward for winning races.
But I think the Chase is - it's a great format, and I don't think they have to tweak it a lot. It seems to be very successful.
Q: Do you like the mix of races?
RICHIE GILMORE: I mean, I think it works out good right now. The ten races we have, we have big tracks, short tracks, the mile and a half tracks. I think it really works out. It doesn't really favor one driver in any way.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Richie, thanks for joining us today. We really appreciate it, and we appreciate all the media that called in. We especially participate your yearlong participation in this call. We look forward to seeing you next year. Richie, good luck on Sunday.
-credit: gm racing